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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Blood And Water

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BLOOD AND WATER (John 19:31-37).—When the soldier, whom tradition names Longinus,* [Note: Nicod. x. [(Lat.) (xvi. (Gr.)]. Cf. ‘Aug.’ Manual. xxiii: ‘Longinus aperuit mihi latus Christi lancea, et ego intravi et ibi requiesco securus.’ The name is probably derived from λόγχη, ‘spear.’] to make sure that He was really dead, drove his spear into the side of Jesus on the cross (see Crucifixion), a strange thing happened. On being withdrawn the spear was followed by a gush of blood and water. It was a singular phenomenon. The Fathers regarded it as a miracle, [Note: Orig. c. Cels. ii. 36: ‘Blood does not flow from dead bodies, τοῦ δὲ κατἁ τὸν Ἱησοῦν νεκροῦ σύματος τὀ ταράδοξον.’ Cf. Euth. Zigahenus.] but St. John does not venture on an opinion. He neither attempts to account for it nor pronounces it a miracle, but contents himself with solemnly asseverating that he had witnessed it, and could vouch for its actual occurrence. He felt the wonder of it to the last (cf. 1 John 5:6-8).

Medical science has confirmed his testimony, and furnished an explanation which at once defines the phenomenon as a perfectly natural occurrence, and reveals somewhat of the awfulness of our Lord’s Passion. During His dread and mysterious dereliction on the cross (see Dereliction) His heart swelled until it burst, and the blood was ‘effused into the distended sac of the pericardium, and afterwards separated, as is usual with extravasated blood, into these two parts, viz. (1) crassamentum or red clot, and (2) watery serum.’ When the distended sac was pierced from beneath, it discharged ‘its sanguineous contents in the form of red clots of blood and a stream of watery serum, exactly corresponding to the description given by the sacred narrative, “and forthwith came there out blood and water.” ’ [Note: Stroud’s Treatise on the Physical Cause of the Death of Christ; J. V. Simpson in Append. to Hanna’s Last Day of Our Lord’s Passion. Cf. Calvin.] Jesus died literally of a broken heart—of ‘agony of mind, producing rupture of the heart.’

It was a favourite idea with the Fathers that the Water and the Blood were symbolic of the Sacraments. St. Augustine, following the v.l. ἤνοιξε for ἔνυξε in v. 34, comments (in Joan Ev. Tract. cxx. § 2): ‘Vigilanti verbo Evangelista usus est, ut non diceret, Latus ejus percussit, aut vulneravit, aut quid alind; sed, aperuit: ut illis quodammodo vitae ostium panderetur, unde Sacramenta Ecclesiae manaverunt, sine quibus ad vitam quae vera vita est, non intratur.’ Cf. Chrysost. in Joan. lxxxiv: οὐχ ἁπλῶς οὐδὲ ὠς ἔτυχεν αὖται ἐξῆλθον αἱ πηγαὶ, άλλʼ ἑπειδὴ ἐξ ἀμφοτέρων ἠ ἐκκλησία συνέστηκε. καὶ ἴσασιν οἱ μυσταγωγούμενοι, διʼ ὕδατος μὲν ἀναγεννώμενοι διʼ αἵματος δὲ καὶ σαρκὸς τρεφόμενοι. ἀρχὴν λαμβἁνει τὰ μυστήρια, ἴνʼ ὅταν προσίῃς τῷ φρικτῷ ποτηρίῳ, ὠς ἀπʼ αὐτῆς πίνων τῆς πλευρᾶς οὔτω προσίῃς.

Literature.—Besides the Comm. consult S. J. Andrews, Life of Our Lord upon the Earth, 566–569.

David Smith.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Blood And Water'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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Monday, June 1st, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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